Governor's message missed need to share prosperity with...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 07, 2000

Governor's message missed need to share prosperity with poor

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's vision for Maryland didn't include everyone.

After reading his State of the State address, I felt that we had been left out -- and by "we" I mean low-income people, people who work as custodians, nurses assistants and other blue collar jobs ("Glendening focuses on education," Jan. 20).

The governor didn't mention us in his budget plan. Rather, he focused mostly on education, health issues and a cleaner environment.

I applaud Mr. Glendening for focusing on improving conditions in these areas, especially education. Everyone wants his or her child to get a better education.

But improvements have to start from the home. If people have money, their children will be able to have better educations, environments and health care.

Maryland has a $1 billion surplus. I believe everyone should get a fair share of it, especially low-income people who are working for minimum wages.

We all contributed to this surplus and we all should move forward together.

It is time to increase the minimum wage in Maryland and give more tax breaks to low-income people.

As a custodian, I take home $315 every two weeks and pay child support charges.

This is not even enough to pay my mortgage; therefore, I was forced to find a second job. I work from 6 a.m. to 11: 30 p.m. But even with two jobs, I cannot make ends meet.

Prosperity in Maryland -- is it only to make the rich richer and the poor poorer?

The economy is good. We have a surplus. It is now time for local and state governments to help low-income people.

Jerry Woahtee

Baltimore

'Prevailing wage' rules add cost to school construction

The arguments of the recent letter "Not paying `prevailing wage' cuts quality of construction" (Jan. 30) break down on several levels, beginning with its claim that prevailing wage laws "do not add to the cost of construction."

The only studies to make that claim were funded by the AFL-CIO. The most reputable studies, including one by the Congressional Budget Office, cite increased costs of 20 percent.

Given the $1 billion the state has budgeted for school construction, such an increase would translate into an additional $200 million in costs.

Even the Prince George's County study that the letter cited as proof that the net effect of prevailing wage laws is "statistically insignificant," showed an increase of five percent in construction costs.

That's hardly an insignificant number, given the average school construction project is less than $1 million.

The letter also claimed that prevailing wage laws provide construction workers with a "living wage." The truth is that the average, non-prevailing wage for a craft worker is $40,000 to $50,000 a year.

William W. Herold

Towson

The writer is president of the Baltimore Metro chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Contractors' cooperation helped fight fraud and waste

Allow me to clarify The Sun's article "Army Corps of Engineers chemist indicted on federal bribery charges" (Jan 19).

The subcontractors in the project, GPL Laboratories of Gaithersburg and Meridian Science and Technology of Annapolis, and the prime contractor, Roy F. Weston Inc. of West Chester, Pa., cooperated fully with the investigation conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division.

They reported the alleged bribery attempts to corps officials immediately after each of the incidents for which Edward Shafik was indicted.

Following Army procedure, the issue was then turned over without delay to the Corps of Engineers Office of Counsel, which contacted DCIS and the U.S. Army.

These contractors did more than just report a contact; they assisted in the investigation. Their promptness and integrity exemplifies the cooperative efforts of private industry and the government in fighting fraud, waste and abuse.

Bruce A. Berwick

Baltimore

The writer is district engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

A visitor impressed by American politics

As a foreigner visiting family in the Baltimore area, I feel extremely lucky that my visit has coincided with political debates among presidential candidates and the State of the Union speech.

President Clinton's speech and the structure and style of the presidential debates have impressed me so much. I consider them a spectacular demonstration of American democratic process.

Coming from a less open society, I wanted to share this with my American friends.

Malahat Bahreman

Towson

Aid shouldn't go to regimes that squander resources, lives

It was very discouraging to read in The Sun that the United Nations is seeking $190 million for food aid for 8 million drought-stricken Ethiopians ("U.N. seeks food aid for 8 million Ethiopians," Jan. 29).

Having spent two years on the Horn of Africa, I have no shortage of sympathy for the starving villagers.

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